I've spent a lot of time talking about "finding your purpose" on this blog. The topic in itself is incredibly divisive in the coaching space because experts have varying views. Some believe there is no such thing as having a life's purpose. These people believe that your life's purpose is in fact, the journey of life itself. This is a beautiful belief, but I don't completely agree. I think if you want to find your purpose, you will. If not finding your purpose it serving you at all, you will not find it until you're ready.
However, there is a lot of value in savoring the journey of life: the act of being present with what's happening in the moment and being flexible with how your life evolves makes the journey exciting.
It's important to distinguish that there's a difference between your goals and your purpose. Both are important and can be intertwined, but they are not the same. Your goals contribute to your greater purpose. Goals can be short or long term, they're generally measurable and their strength comes in specificity and discipline. Your purpose should be the big picture: overarching and open to evolution. Think of it this way: If your life were a book, your goals would be the plot and your life purpose would be the overall theme.
With that being said, I think everyone has a purpose in life. Try to boil your purpose down to a single verb. For instance, mine is: To Help (others). Yours could be: To Teach. It might also be To Design, To Entertain, To Serve, To Love, To Create, To Nurture, To Learn, etc. Isn't it a relief to think of your purpose in such a simple way? It leaves room for for the things your tangible goals don't like making mistakes, changing your mind, taking breaks, setbacks, etc. When you become clear on your purpose in this way things start to align and there's a new sense of patience, flexibility and peace.
Because your purpose has scope and depth, your path to achieving this and your goals are what can be clarified. A lot of people struggle with the question, Am I on the right path? I don't believe anyone is ever on the "wrong" path, it's just a matter of clarity and alignment. These feelings of being on the "wrong" path are just signals that you're not as best aligned as you could be. Like those Rumble Strips on the highway, when you hear and feel them, you use that information to make the adjustments needed to get back on the right path. At the end, you still get to the destination.
When you're feeling out of alignment, it's important to reflect on your purpose as a verb. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to make sure you're on the right path.
1) Is what I'm doing contributing to my purpose?
2) How can I integrate more of my purpose into what I'm doing every day?
3) How do my current goals contribute to my purpose?
4) What action can I take to contribute to my purpose today?
If you can't pick a verb yet, that's OK. The verb should feel like a magnet; like you're constantly being pulled to do that thing. This is how you know it's your purpose. For instance, I've always been a natural entertainer. I'm animated, creative, expressive, musical, etc. There are times I think I should have gone down that path sort of path and I begin to overanalyze/regret. I've also thought about going into advertising, or marketing, or something media based would have been "cool" but when I remember and reflect on the knowledge that my true purpose is To Help, those competing thoughts calm down. I realize, yes, what I'm doing now is better aligned with my purpose and I can feel at peace journeying on this path.